Game News

Dirty Chinese Restaurant Is A Mobile Game That Thrives On Racism

by Jelani James


Once upon a time, searching the term ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ on Google would provide you with the names and locations of nearby Chinese restaurants. However, as it’s 2017, it only seems natural that there would be a game with the very same name.

Yes, that’s right, thanks to an independent game studio in Canada, there is actually a mobile game in development called Dirty Chinese Restaurant. And when a game with that name is developed by a company called Big-O-Tree Games (wordplay on “bigotry”), one would assume that they’d know what you’re getting into.

The reality, however, is far worse.

Imagine every negative stereotype that you’ve ever heard about Chinese Americans…it’s probably in this. Racism is Dirty Chinese Restaurant’s hook and raison d’être, as is pretty much stated as such by Big-O-Tree Games itself, stating on its website that it’s a maker of “games that are tongue-in-cheek, shockingly humorous, and full of satire inspired by the mad world we live in,” because “being politically correct is so…boring.” Then describing the game as “a shining example of our unorthodox modus operandi.”

In Dirty Chinese Restaurant players control a chef named Wong Fu, who inherited a Chinese restaurant from his brother, Wang Fu. They then have the option of  running a “prestigious Oriental establishment” by giving customers high quality food and service or “a real filthy dive” by evading taxes and gambling away your profits in Mahjong.

At face value, this alone isn’t actually that bad, some might even consider it humorous. However, things quickly get considerably more murky when you get down to the gameplay and events that can occur throughout. First off, there’s what appears to be a sweatshop mode, employees with rice farmer hats who occasionally get deported and the menu itself is comprised of dogs, cats and even ingredients taken out of dumpsters.

“Dogtons?” a tweet asks as Wong Fu chases a dog, cat and mouse with a cleaver in hand.  “Sweet and Sour Kitten? Miso Mousey Soup? You decide the menu in DCR!”

Believe it or not, this game has been in development since 2016 and even has two trailers on YouTube, but has only started to get attention now due to Grace Meng, a New York Congresswoman, who called out Big-O-Tree Games on Facebook.

“I wish I could say that I was shocked that there is a new video game soon to be released called ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant.’ This game uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American. From the names used for the characters of the game, to the types of food they cook, to the disturbing depiction of their faces, this game epitomizes racism against Asian Americans. I fear that prejudice against and othering of Asian Americans remains a form of racism that is too frequently brushed off and tacitly accepted. Racism against Asian Americans is just as harmful and pernicious as racism against any other group, and we must call it out when we see it. How we portray people matters. I urge Google, Apple, Android, and any other platform to not carry the game Dirty Chinese Restaurant, or any other game that glorifies in hurting any community.”

Other netizens have also begun speaking out against the game since Meng’s post starting making the rounds on social media.

“Please cancel release of DIRTY CHINESE RESTAURANT game due to it’s racist stereotyping,” says Twiter user Karlin Chan

“Disgusting and unacceptable,” said New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “I hope @Google and @Apple do not allow this intentionally racist game on their platforms.”

Yes, Google and Apple will ultimately determine whether Dirty Chinese Restaurant gets added to their platforms. We have seen examples of Apple purging some games that feature the Confederate Flag from its library, but its unclear if the same will happen here.

And if it does, it will be interesting to see if this game goes down quietly or if it (or inevitable fans) put up a fight.

Check out a trailer for Dirty Chinese Restaurant below:

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